Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Kangaloon Aquifer - the view of the National Party

On the Kangaloon Aquifer matter, I note the statement by Adrian Piccoli, Member for Murrumbidgee, and Shadow Minisiter for Natural Resources.

Mr Piccoli firstly says:
“The NSW Government has to be very careful here, because they have admitted making massive mistakes already across NSW when they have tried to estimate the size of groundwater aquifers." He continues:

“The NSW Government has been ramming groundwater reform principles down the throat of farmers in NSW for the last 5 years, saying that extracting groundwater is unsustainable and that the environment had to have a priority over productive use,” Mr Piccoli said.

“I would like to see the NSW Government use the same principles now that they have ‘miraculously’ discovered this huge water source very close to Sydney.

These principles include the fact that they cannot use the whole resource, only the sustainable yield, and that they must allocate a large amount of that sustainable yield to the environment, as they have done in western NSW aquifers

Mr Piccoli said “What’s good for country NSW is good for Sydney as far as I am concerned”.

Morris Iemma must also ensure that all the hydro geological work is undertaken, as well as ensure the myriad environmental impact studies have been done.

“In the past this process has taken as much as five years and even then the results have not been exactly reliable."


This blog does not endorse a particular politician on this topic. There is a considerable element of "sour grapes" in the tone of Mr Piccoli's full statement. He does not appear to be a "true believer" in the need for Environment Impact Statements, for example (as I would be). But I surely do like some of the points which he has made. You may read the full statement at this link.

Incidentally, a glossary of hydrogeological terms on a website about the Edwards Aquifer in the USA provides a description of "Sustainable Management of an aquifer" as:

sustainable management
method of exploiting a resource that can be carried on indefinitely. Removal of water from an aquifer in excess of recharge is, in the long term, not a sustainable management method.
refers to water entering an underground aquifer through faults, fractures, or direct absorption.

In layman's terms, Mr Piccoli's point about sustainable yield means the Kangaloon Aquifer should not be pumped out at a faster rate than it is being recharged. The rate of "recharge" is not just "rainfall", of course, it is the amount of water which annually tops up the existing groundwater (in simplistic terms it is rainfall, minus "stream flow"). But it is never that simple! That is precisely why hydrogeological studies are needed before any pumping starts.

Mr Piccoli's statement at least puts pressure on the Government to follow its own rules for groundwater extraction. In that most basic point, I agree with him.
Where I differ from Mr Piccoli is that I am opposed to any extraction from the Kangaloon Aquifer. Once the Kangaloon Aquifer is tapped,even with the best possible studies, it is entirely possible that environmental damage could be set in train (irreversably), by over-exploitation of the resource, long before the damage to the environment starts to become evident. In fact, the older the ground water, the greater the risk.
More about the need to "age" the water later on.

No comments: